More Rush

Limbaugh’s website has “A Statement from Rush” that has been widely misreported as an apology for his now-famous sliming of Ms. Fluke. The  original piece of schweinerei has to my knowledge attracted a clear, unambiguous condemnation from three (3) Republicans of any note: George Will, Peggy Noonan, and a senator in a tight Massachusetts race.  Eric Cantor, like many others, seems to be under the illusion that Limbaugh has apologized, and that that takes care of the whole affair, so it’s important to clarify. [update 5/III: Adele Stan had an excellent dissection of the apology up yesterday morning]

The statement itself suffers a little from the difficulty Mr. Limbaugh, or some intern who drafted it, has with diction (analogy is like, different from analysis, but hey, the first four letters are enough for anyone who isn’t a pointyheaded pedant, right? And they’re both goddam Greek to me, har har), and a spectacular detachment from facts. First we get some trampling of the grass about absurdity, and “I chose the wrong words….I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.”  I guess there are other words for a promiscuous woman and one who sells sex for money than slut and prostitute, but the words are not what needs the apology: he slandered Fluke with the characterization no matter how it was phrased.  At whom did he mean to aim the personal attack? Or did he intend some other kind of attack, or perhaps a kindly avuncular supportive counseling type of interaction and it just came out sort of different?

Completely omitted is any reference to his public appeal for pornography (the sex tapes) and his implicit suggestion that his listeners would like some as well (“…so that we [sic] can watch.”).   Rush is on the air in the morning; is this Clear Channel’s idea of family stuff, or are they just trying to be sure parents have plenty of opportunity to practice their personal responsibility and accountability?

Then we get a lecture about using public funds for recreation, in which he shares his complete ignorance of how insurance works and either (i) misapprehends who pays for the track in the park (or the sidewalks) where students and others run to keep fit, or (ii) forgets to fulminate about how government streets are trashing our personal responsibility and accountability.  He seems to think he “posited” [no, intern, that word doesn’t mean “say”, sigh] that it’s not our business “to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom”; he posited it by, um, asserting to his audience of millions that Georgetown students are having so much sex that they can’t afford contraception. To be fair, he did not say they were having it in bedrooms, so maybe a smart lawyer can get him a pass on that one.

Finally, he makes sure to specify again that his apology is for insulting word choices.

No, he didn’t apologize. He didn’t almost apologize, or sort of apologize but maybe not enough, or apologize inartfully or ineptly: he very explicitly did not apologize for the slander he visited on Fluke and on every woman using contraceptives for any reason. He maybe didn’t deserve to be fired for the first pass, but he certainly leaped across the Mendoza line, and then ran back and did it again, in his followups.

Now, what about armed forces radio: the government has to put out some programming and not all programming, so carrying Rush is a choice. Is this choice improving the morale of women in uniform, and unit cohesion?





Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

15 thoughts on “More Rush”

  1. The Republican establishment is rallying to bring Rush into lock step with the Mitt push. But how will they get Billy Graham on board with Mormon? You know they’ve thought this through in great detail.

    Not that religious affiliation should be a test of any kind. But get real, it’ll matter. If Billy is still mentally there, and in position to do damage to Mitt, he had better be on the lookout for extreme mischief, and how.

  2. The other day, I tried to explain to my daughter (age 10) the diffrence between saying “I’m sorry _if_ I hurt your feelings…” and “I’m sorry _that_ I hurt your feelings….” After a couple of runthroughs, she seemed to get the idea. One is an apology. One is not.

    I have seen nothing from Brother Limbaugh, over the last decades, that would suggest that he is capable of grasping this distinction.

    1. Exactly. But wouldn’t a true apology from Rush be like the Pluto character taking off his costume head at Disneyland? Or like Dirty Harry saying, “Look, you effed up, but I want to give you a second chance. I want to help you.” It’d kill the angry victimhood mind game that powers the spell Rush has on his listeners. The somewhat damaged personalities who are Rush’s followers couldn’t take it.

    2. I don’t know whether Limbaugh understands the difference or not. I think he just does not care. He’s got $100 million or more in the bank, lives like a king, and is the most important man in the dominant political party in this country. And unless we can figure out a way to change all those things, perhaps by pressuring Clear Channel’s advertisers or challenging the license renewals of its local stations, he does not need to care and he will never care. Personally, I think we should start with Clear Channel’s advertisers and not just those who buy time on Limbaugh’s show and then just keep going until all of these important goals are accomplished.

  3. Lovely post.

    I remain interested in the reactions to what that fool said. I’m seeing a lot of that faux balance that’s currently in vogue for journalists. I’m taking down names and the list of those worth reading is getting shorter. Which is good, because I’ve got other stuff to do.

    I also remain fascinated by this idea that a woman’s cooch is somehow separable from the rest of her body, such that it is not part of “health care.” Do they think she can take it out and put it in her handbag, when it’s convenient? Oh, and is there an exception for rape and incest?

  4. What transports this post from merely being correct and emphatic is its final paragraph which catapulted this little essay squarely into the “genius” realm (which Michael O’Hare often refers to as “my regular stomping grounds”).

    Three cheers for Michael O’Hare. Rush is a professional and an adult and it’s about time he took some personal responsibility for the words that came out of his mouth.

  5. Limbaugh did not apologize. His performance on Monday made that clear when he only talked about the “two words” as if that was what it was all about.

    His response (both in the Saturday statement and Monday radio show) was crafted to fool some people and irritate the rest. He is totally defiant and will not back down.

    One year ago (2 Mar 11) Limbaugh had this to say about Occupy-type protestors in Wisconsin:
    Hell, these leftist protesters, leave Kotex! Used Kotex …

    Limbaugh is like the creepy guy who keeps a notebook filled with nothing but:

    All women are unclean.
    All women are unclean.
    All women are unclean

    1. Actually, he has apologized.

      No, not to Ms Fluke. To his audience. For pretending to apologize to Fluke. Because “I am huge on personal responsibility and accountability”. Like when he skated after violating drug laws he advocated for ever-higher penalties for decades. And no, this one’s not really an apology either, because, as always, it’s anybody’s fault but Mr. Huge on Personal Responsibility and Accountability.

      I want to explain why I apologized to Sandra Fluke in the statement that was released on Saturday. I’ve read all the theories from all sides, and, frankly, they are all wrong. I don’t expect — and I know you don’t, either — morality or intellectual honesty from the left. They’ve demonstrated over and over a willingness to say or do anything to advance their agenda. It’s what they do. It’s what we fight against here every day. But this is the mistake I made. In fighting them on this issue last week, I became like them.

      I acted too much like the leftists who despise me. I descended to their level, using names and exaggerations to describe Sandra Fluke. It’s what we have come to know and expect of them, but it’s way beneath me.

      Oh really? Using names and exaggerations to describe people is way beneath you? Use the term “feminazi” much, Rush? Here’s my favorite:

      This administration actually calls the names of private citizens and holds them up for ridicule and attack, and encourages those attacks; private citizens who simply disagree and who do nothing more than speak constitutionally protected words. Have you ever thought what kind of people they are who are literally threatened to death by words? That’s President Obama and his supporters at his political party. Words and publicly ridiculing.

      First of all, WTF is he talking about? Secondly, but…. isn’t that what he does every day? Isn’t that what he did to Fluke for three days straight? And the finale doesn’t disappoint. Rush boasts the source and strength of his moral superiority — his willingness to apologize! Wow! How could I have missed that mature and admirable trait all these years?

      I’m not going to wait for apologies from the left ever. And you shouldn’t, either. They won’t come. You won’t get apologies from people like Bill Maher or all the other leftists who have said some of the most horrible, despicable things about us, and people like Sarah Palin. They get rewarded for those despicable things. They get to make movies out of their despicable things and amplify them. But all of the other leftists that call me and other conservatives the most rude and explicit names, never an apology. In fact, they get patted on the back. Don’t expect apologies. They are never going to apologize to you or me or any of us. That’s the difference between them and us, and it’s one more reason why ultimately we will prevail over them.

      LOL! Yeah, that’s what makes you better Rush. The one time you pretend to apologize, it’s because you are always ever so righteous and noble. The left never apologizes, but if they did, it’s because they are surrender monkeys. Got it.

      Anyone who actually takes this guy seriously would probably be better off set under a grow lamp and watered twice a week. That said, buried in the midst of all this nonsense, there is actually a coherent argument against the contraception policy. I don’t find it terribly convincing, but it’s certainly a lot more rational than anything I’ve heard come out of the EIB Golden Microphone. I wonder what team of lawyers helped him write this stuff up?

  6. “First of all, WTF is he talking about?”

    Obviously, he’s pointing out that, when the President attacks you by name, (Say your name is Koch…) you start getting death threats. Lots of them. Right away. That wasn’t clear?

    1. oh yeah, now that you mention it, i do recall that time obama used his access to national media and spent time over the course of three days making up shit about the kochs. it’s like it was yesterday.

      is that the best you have, brett?

      1. There will be a new comedy routine tomorrow. Hopefully the parody character isn’t crafted to be the exemplar of the socioeconomic group.

      2. It’s always all he’s got — he loves to take drive-by potshots using talking points he “learned” listening to Limbaugh’s radio show, but when challenged he runs away just about every time.

        The funny thing is, Rush admits that he is as intentionally ill-informed as his ditto-heads. From his second nonpology (the one to his listeners), he blames another “news” source (“right news, right now” “fed up with the liberal media — donate today”) for his misinformation. Apparently it was too hard for Rush to get his facts from the actual testimony Fluke delivered instead of someone else’s mischaracterization until that got him into a firestorm. It’s the intentionally blind leading the intentionally blind.

        The story at the Cybercast News Service characterized a portion of her testimony as sounding like (based on her own financial figures) she was engaging in sexual activity so often she couldn’t afford it

    2. OK I looked it up. This seems to be the offending part, correct me if your sensibilities differ:

      Those are the same Koch brothers whose business model is to make millions by jacking up prices at the pump, and who bankrolled Tea Party extremism, and committed $200 million to try to destroy President Obama before Election Day.

      This, Brett, is what you might say is a bit imprecise in it’s characterization. While you might say it’s absurd to say their “business model is to make millions by jacking up prices at the pump”, as the Koch’s concede in their letter in response, they do exert some power over the retail price of gasoline through their sizeable share of control of the supply. Not sayin’ they’d act contrary to what they perceive as their business interests, but I could see how modulating the supply to take advantage of demand cycles and even presidential election cycles might be perceived that way. Worked for Enron, at least for a while, didn’t it?

      …and the part of our business you allude to, oil and gas refining, actually lowers the price of gasoline by increasing supply.

      I can’t speak to the rest, I don’t follow the Koch conspiracy theories or the Obama re-election campaign or have insider information on Tea Party funding. If there’s a case to be made, it should be made precisely and backed up with facts. Jim Messina’s brief memo fell short. He made the claims, he should be challenged to back them up with facts or renounce what he can’t back up.

      Similarly, there seems to be some imprecision in the Koch response as well:

      But it is an abuse of the President’s position and does a disservice to our nation for the President and his campaign to criticize private citizens simply for the act of engaging in their constitutional right of free speech about important matters of public policy. The implication in that sort of attack is obvious: dare to criticize the President’s policies and you will be singled out and personally maligned by the President and his campaign in an effort to chill free speech and squelch dissent.

      First, when they speak of “engaging in their constitutional right of free speech about important matters of public policy”, a lot of that free speech is criticism of the President and his policies. Nothing wrong with that, is there? Are they trying to squelch someone else’s free speech by exercising theirs? So why is it wrong for “the President and his campaign to criticize” them in return. Isn’t free speech for everyone, and if so, can’t we all criticise each other? Isn’t that what we do here all the time? I wonder, why are they being such babies, whining about somebody criticising their criticism?

      Second, they present no evidence for their paranoid theory that there is an “effort to chill free speech and squelch dissent.” The memo they are responding to sure looks to me like they are trying to raise money to buy advertising in order to exercise their free speech, and doing so by referring to how much free speech time deep pockets on the other side are preparing to fund. I see no hint that they’re saying the Koch’s shouldn’t be free to fund their speech. Free speech for everyone! All you can afford! What’s not to like?

      So in the hours before Romney courts two men obsessed with making Barack Obama a one-term president, let’s see how many of us can chip in to the Two-Term Fund.

      Here’s what Mitt Romney told his supporters just after his victory in the Florida GOP primary:

      “We must not forget what this election is really about: defeating Barack Obama.”

      Pitch in $3 or more over the next 24 hours to show that, while that message may fire up two oil-industry billionaires, it’s also one that plenty of us are tired of hearing.

  7. The “…so we can watch…” part was most blood-curdling to me. It’s not far off from a rape fantasy.

    He’s a mean-spirited, dishonest, and narcissistic man-boy. Would someone like that ever really apologize for anything?

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